Press Releases

    5 September 2002


    Johannesburg Concludes High-Level Debate;
    Summit Expected to Adopt Political Declaration, Action Plan

    (Received from a UN Information Officer.)

    JOHANNESBURG, 4 September -- As the World Summit on Sustainable Development concluded its high-level segment this morning, the Secretary of State of the United States, Colin Powell, said his country reaffirmed the principle that sound economic management, investment in people and responsible stewardship of the environment were crucial for development.

    Mr. Powell said President George Bush had addressed the issue at the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development this year, when he proposed the establishment of a "Millennium Challenge Account", which would provide assistance only to developing nations that were governed wisely and fairly and whose leadership was actively committed to promoting good health, education and policies that spurred growth and development. Further, he said, the United States was doing its part to protect the environment, including initiating a $1 billion programme to deploy technological resources to mitigate global emissions, and launching initiatives during the Summit aimed at expending access to clean water and energy, as well as provide jobs for millions of people in need.

    The international community has gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, to build a commitment at the highest level to better implement Agenda 21, the road map for achieving sustainable development adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development -- the Earth Summit -- held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It opened on 26 August, began its high-level segment Monday, and this morning heard from 7 heads of State or government, as well as 26 ministers and others.

    While a number of other speakers also stressed the importance of good governance, the Vice-President of Afghanistan, Hedayat Amin Arsala, drew attention to the consequences of war. He said more than 24 years of war and five years of drought had created immense human and environmental destruction. The economic, financial and administrative institutions were extremely weak and women and children had been particularly affected. Forests had been denuded on a large scale, fresh water became scarce, there was desertification and the presence of land mines had left fertile land unfit for use. His country also struggled with lack of sanitation, which caused health problems.

    Yousef Abu-Safieh, Minister for the Environment of the Palestinian Authority, said that the Authority had developed legislation to organize and manage sectors such as water, environment, education, health, industry, trade and tourism. Due to Israeli violations of international environmental and humanitarian conventions, however, all those efforts, unfortunately, had been wasted, thereby paralysing every aspect of Palestinian life. Israel had demolished and destroyed more than 10,000 hectares of agricultural land and had uprooted more than a million trees. Consequently, 64 per cent of the Palestinian population was living under the poverty line, compared to 22 per cent in 1998.

    Speakers from small island States described the consequences of climate change on their countries. Tommy E. Remengesau, President of Palau, said the problem was one of "global greed versus global need". In 1997 and 1998 Palau had lost one third of its coral reef due to climate change. It also lost most of its agricultural production, due to drought and extreme high tides. Those were not theoretical scientific losses. "Our destiny may very well be the window to your own future and the future of our planet", he warned.

    Julian R. Hunt, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Saint Lucia, drew attention to other vulnerabilities of small island nations. Globalization and trade liberalization, including market access and debt relief, had significant implications for the competitiveness of small and medium scale enterprises within the private sector and the viability of the national agricultural base of those countries, particularly their banana industry. It was also necessary to consider the fragility of limited, yet diverse, natural resources and biodiversity.

    Other heads of State or government who spoke this morning were: President of Comoros, Azali Assoumani; President of Sao Tome and Principe, Fradique Bandeira Melo de Menezes; Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Robert Woonton; Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, Alamara Intchia Nhasse; Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, Sar Kheng; and Prime Minister of Tajikistan, Kozidavlat Koimodov.

    Also: Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Mares; Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus, Vladimir Drazhin; Deputy Prime Minister of Niue, Toke Talagi; Deputy Prime Minister of Estonia, Liina Tonnisson; Minister for External Affairs of India, Yashwant Sinha; Minister of Justice of Jamaica, A.J. Nicholson; Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Dominican Republic, Rafael F. de Moya Pons; Minister for Health and Environment of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Douglas Slater; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, Joao Bertnardo de Miranda; Minister of the Environment of Tunisia, Mohammed Ennabli; Minister of Ecology, Construction and Territorial Development of Moldova, George Duca; Minister of Environment and Forestry of Cameroon, Clarkson O. Tanyi-Mbianyor; Minister for the Environment of Spain, D. Jaume Matas; Minister for the Environment of Seychelles, Tonny Jumeau; Minister for Foreign Affairs of Niger, Aichatou Mindaoudou; Minister of Agriculture and Environment of Andorra, Olga Adellach; Minister for the Environment and Heritage of Australia, David Kemp; Minister of Environmental Protection of Latvia, Vladimirs Makarovs; Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic, Agba Otikpo Mezode; Minister for Health and Environment of Grenada, Clarice Modeste-Curwen; Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Gambia, Baboucarr Blaise Jagne; and Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of East Timor, Jose Luis Guterres.

    The World Summit will meet again at 3 p.m. to adopt its political declaration and implementation plan.


    AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros, said the eyes of the world were on Johannesburg, and the international community needed to strive to meet the needs of the people of the planet. Millions of men and women were victims of conflict, the ravages of HIV/AIDS and the scourge of poverty. Natural disasters, climate change and environmental degradation continued to make life precarious for many in some of the most impoverished regions of the world. In those regions, and particularly for small islands and least developed countries, those problems were exacerbated by inferior transport, communications, heath services and lack of access to drinking water.

    He wished to draw the Summits attention to that fact that if something were not done soon, by 2005, Comoros and other countries like it would lose between 5 to 10 per cent of its population due to sea-level rise. He said the precarious situation of national economies for many developing countries also required attention. He urged the Summit to work toward a new system of solidarity so that al men and women could live on a clean, and healthy planet in peace and prosperity together. "Long live international solidarity", he said.

    FRADIQUE BANDEIRA MELO DE MENEZES, President of Sao Tome and Principe, noted that 10 years had passed since Rio and the international community was still fully preoccupied with the degradation of the environment. Thirty years had passed since the world first gathered in Stockholm to discuss environmental problems. The international community was meeting once again to look at how to achieve a better future for the planet.

    The present model of development for the underdeveloped countries had led to, among other things, higher rates of mortality and increased levels of environmental degradation, he said. Sao Tome and Principe faced great vulnerabilities as a small country in the face of the phenomena resulting from the ecological imbalance of the planet, for which humans were largely responsible. He affirmed his country's commitment in adhering to all the conventions related to the environment. Apart from coastal erosion, his country was also experiencing problems relating to poverty, such as the destruction of forests, access to potable water for the population and environmental health problems.

    He was pleased that the Summit had taken into account the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Sao Tome and Principe had identified the consolidation of democracy, good governance and transparency as priority areas for the Government.

    TOMMY E. REMENGESAU, President of Palau, said the problem discussed here was one of "global greed versus global need". He would reserve his tears of joy about the Summit's outcome until it could be shown that actions had been taken and his country's very survival was insured. The true success of the Summit would not be immediate. His country was a small island developing State renowned for its exceptional biodiversity. However, it found itself increasingly isolated and vulnerable to the impact of globalization, exacerbated by the impact of climate change. It was also economically isolated from the global community and had limited access to the resources needed to bridge that gap. There had been some progress in recognizing the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of the small island developing countries. It was now time to put into place the appropriate mechanisms to allow them to fully implement the recommendations that had been made.

    He said the small island developing States were not seeking a handout. They offered eventual self-sufficiency, equity and equality, achieved by establishing principles of good governance throughout their political processes. It was well past time for the developed nations to recognize that their industrial activities had had a great impact on others. He called on them to take responsibility for their actions. In 1997 and 1998 Palau had lost one third of its coral reef due to climate change. It also lost most of its agricultural production, due to drought and extreme high tides. Those were not theoretical scientific losses.

    "Yet, our destinies may very well be the window to your own future and the future of our planet", he said. "Hear our alarm." His country was under attack, not by its enemies, but by its friends. It was, indeed, the last paradise on earth. "Do not cause us to be a paradise lost", he said.

    ROBERT WOONTON, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, said his nations vision was to achieve genuine sustainable development that would improve the quality of life of the people of Cook Islands, and also that of all the people of the world. The Cook Islands, like other small island States in the Pacific region, shared responsibility for the stewardship of the ocean in which it lived. He called on those who continued to threaten the Pacific Ocean by transporting radioactive materials against the wishes of the people of the region, and those who continued to exploit the ocean's rich resources, to heed the concerns of small island States and, on behalf of the entire world, keep those islands safe.

    In a genuine gesture of ecological solidarity for the planet, the Cook Islands had declared its 2 million kilometres of ocean as a whale sanctuary and designated one of its 15 islands as a bird sanctuary. He was pleased that the Summit's outcome document captured the essence of many of the concerns of small island nations, particularly stressing the need for national and international support to promote sustainable development. For his nation, sustainable development depended largely on capacity-building, improved trade-facilitation measures and fair access to markets not distorted by subsidies.

    With that in mind, he called upon the Summit to support the relevant activities currently being undertaken in the Small Economies Work Programme and the World Trade Organization (WTO). He said the Cook Islands was also aware of the limits to the carrying capacity of the ecosystems and physical resources of both land and sea. In that regard, Cook Islands supported the draft action plans' references to biodiversity protection, intellectual property, sustainable tourism, agriculture and fisheries.

    ALAMARA INTCHIA NHASSE, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, said that for poor countries, the problems of sustainable development were affected by absolute poverty, which caused people to adopt inappropriate and unsustainable lifestyles. To change such attitudes, the international community, particularly rich countries, had the responsibility of assisting poor countries through partnerships. Environmental problems knew no borders. Such a process required continued funding of poverty-alleviation programmes. Development programmes must correspond to studies of their environmental viability. The NEPAD, a common commitment on the part of all Africans to help the continent enter a course for growth and sustainable development, must be implemented urgently.

    Ten years after Rio, the international community had gathered in Johannesburg to assess the progress made and define new ways and means to ensure sustainable development, he said. Guinea-Bissau had made many efforts to implement Agenda 21. In 1995, it had ratified the United Nations conventions on biological diversity, climate change and desertification. In addition, since democracy and good governance were important elements, Guinea-Bissau was well on its way to establishing democratic institutions. What it needed was the urgent support of the international community to assist with national efforts.

    His was a country where peace prevailed, he said. Nonetheless, it still faced economic problems resulting from past armed conflict. Peace and economic stability were closely interlinked. He, therefore, appealed to the international community to give urgent support to reverse the current situation by providing capital and investment.

    SAR KHENG, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, said never before had it been more urgent to bring the environment to the fore of the development agenda, as every day more people were added to the planet, more resources, such as water and forests dwindled, and the culture of consumerism was expanded. Third world countries were confronted with such problems as financial/economic crises, low employment rates, food security, health and education issues, extreme poverty, rapid population growth, peace and order. There was inadequate commitment to resolving structural problems, such as external debt, financial aid for development and environment programmes.

    He said his country considered poverty reduction based on principles of holistic growth as a key priority for sustainable development. That meant a growth that was multi-sectoral, pro-poor, gender sensitive, broad-based in participation, and environmentally sound. His country had made substantial efforts in promoting energy efficiency and renewable and cleaner energy use. It clearly understood that political stability and peace were a necessary and fundamental prerequisite for the country's march towards democracy, poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

    At the regional level, his country was strongly committed with all Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Pacific countries to implement the Regional Environmental Action Plan for 2001-2005, among others. He called on the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to enhance its effectiveness by improving its operational procedures to be more responsive to the identified needs of developing countries. Cambodia had just acceded to the Kyoto Protocol, in addition to the many international environmental conventions it was already party to. He emphasized that the declarations and commitments, such as those in the Millennium Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus, were valid and should not be reshaped.

    KOZIDAVLAT KOIMDODOV, Prime Minister of Tajikistan, said ensuring genuine sustainable development involved changing man's habitat, ensuring that it served the needs of the widest number of people in a sustainable manner. Tajikistan was following that path, energetically working towards establishing a market economy while implementing the principles of Agenda 21. Following Rio, Tajikistan had acceded to eight international conventions. And, earlier this year, it had implemented its first poverty-reduction strategy, which also included environmental concerns. He added, however, that foreign direct investment needed to be stimulated for Tajikistan and other countries with economies in transition to meet the objectives of poverty eradication and environmental protection.

    He went on to say that the Government had established regional structures to promote sustainable development, foremost among them the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea. Central Asia was aware of the importance of indigenous ecosystems and Tajikistan would join others in a partnership initiative to develop a subregional strategy for implementing Agenda 21 and a master plan for water transport and preservation of water sources. The President of his country was promoting an initiative that would proclaim an international year of drinking water.

    He hoped in the future to have further cooperation with World Bank, Global Environmental Framework (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement many water resource programes. In the meantime, it was necessary to concentrate on capacity-building and rehabilitating infrastructures in order to achieve regional and national sustainable development. He was convinced that only through joint efforts of all United Nations Members could the objectives of sustainable development be achieved and the environment saved.

    PETR MARES, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, presenting the message of President Vaclav Havel, said that it had become widely accepted that the planet was now enveloped by a single global civilization. The world now possessed a sufficient amount of warning signals and information about possible future threats. Still, human beings behaved as if the whole of existence should terminate with the end of their own stay on earth. Humankind depleted non-renewable natural resources and interfered with the planet's climate. It had reconciled itself to the fact that although population was growing rapidly, the creation of wealth alarmingly ceased to correspond with the creation of real and meaningful values.

    During the last few weeks, he said, his country had been hit by destructive floods, which by their extent exceeded the most pessimistic expectations. The dedicated help of individuals and the great wave of international solidarity had been heartening. The acute tasks of development were not solvable on the level of individual ministries or governments. Next to the imperative of international cooperation and economic restructuring, the need to restructure values must also be borne in mind. It was crucial to advance, in the era of globalization, global responsibility.

    HEDAYAT AMIN ARSALA, Vice-President of Afghanistan, said he regretted that preoccupation with 24 years of war had not allowed his country to pay attention to the subjects of the Summit. However, now that his country had joined the family of nations, it was determined to be an active participant in all international forums. More than 24 years of war and five years of drought had created immense human and environmental destruction. The economic, financial and administrative institutions were extremely weak. Women and children had been particularly affected.

    He said the extent of environmental damage done by the war had yet to be assessed. Forests had been denuded on a large scale, fresh water became scarce, there was desertification and the presence of landmines had left fertile land unfit for use. His country also struggled with lack of sanitation, which caused health problems. It had developed a reconstruction and development strategy that would be consistent with sustainable development. Emphasizing human development, alleviation of poverty and creation of jobs, the plan intended to use advanced technologies that were environmentally sound.

    To achieve the reconstruction and sustainable development objectives, Afghanistan would need substantial assistance from the international community, he said. Generous contributions had been pledged in Tokyo earlier this year, but he hoped that the speed of disbursements would accelerate. Afghanistan looked forward to a successful Johannesburg outcome. Johannesburg would be remembered for having caused a paradigm shift in sustainable development. That was a tribute to Nelson Mandela, who had triggered a paradigm shift in national reconciliation. Afghanistan would work closely with countries in the region to attain the objectives set forth in the Summit.

    VLADIMIR DRAZHIN, Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus, said looking back over the past decade it was clear that the international community was still far from achieving development goals set at Rio and reaffirmed by the Millennium Declaration. There were many reasons for that lack of progress, namely the lack of political will, underdeveloped national capacities and the rapid spread of globalization. In the many regions of the world, sustainable development efforts had also been undermined by persistent global financial crises and the spread of infectious disease, such as HIV/AIDS. All that was exacerbated by a lack of international solidarity. Nevertheless, States bore the primary responsibility for achieving their own development progress.

    He said that particular attention should be paid to ensuring the market access of developing nations. The potential gain from expanding equal access to markets of developing States was for more beneficial than putting in place development schemes solely based on direct financial assistance. A major way to achieve that goal would be to allow universal membership in the WTO. He also said Belarus fully subscribed to the principle of "global public goods" and was implementing the provisions of international agreements in the field of environmental protection.

    Belarus had ratified the Cartagena Convention on Biodiversity, as well as the United Nations Protocol on Biosafety, among others. By implementing national and regional polices on corruption and trafficking, Belarus was also making its contribution to European efforts to move towards sustainability. Unfortunately, mitigating the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident remained a nationwide problem in Belarus. Still, the Government realized that mitigating that tragedy in the context of sustainable development would make it possible to generate the financial resources to offset its aftermath. Belarus would continue to work actively within the United Nations and within its region to achieve the goals of sustainable development.

    TOKE TALAGI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment of Niue, said that the Summit came at a critical time globally. It was important to remember that the challenges of sustainable development lay beyond the walls of the conference centre and with the people who were not a part of the Summit. "On judgement day, how would we fare?" The international community had done what it could to reach agreement in order to move forward. He believed progress was being made, albeit slowly. It was well known by everyone that it was necessary to integrate economic, social and environmental goals to give future generations a future worthy of them.

    The plan of implementation, he said, would guide the world community in its work. While there was a long way to go, his country was ready to "walk the walk". For many in the Pacific, the ocean framed their culture and was the basis of future well-being. Agenda 21 had provided the direction for improving the management of the oceans. The section in the implementation plan on the sustainable development of small island States was also a positive move forward. Sustainable development was the primary responsibility of nations. "Our people are the future and their capacity to determine the way forward would be crucial." Development was most responsible when it was inclusive, participatory and transparent.

    The Pacific was a region strong in indigenous resources, he said. Critical daily decisions on resource use were often made by local communities. In addition, preparations for the Summit had been a collective effort. The regional institutional architecture was well developed and was widely recognized as a model for regional cooperation. Small island States faced special vulnerabilities in integrating themselves into the global economy. Such integration would depend on access to markets and the removal of subsidies.

    LIINA TONNISSON, Deputy Prime Minister of Estonia, said her country had proven to be capable of positive transformation. Its success had been based on its liberal and open economy, monetary system and conservative budgetary policy. Estonia owed much of its success to its creative and flexible people. The rapid change also had, however, high social costs. New challenges for the society included an ageing population and social stratification. The Government was currently drafting a sustainable development strategy, in cooperation with civil society and the private sector.

    Another challenge the country faces was to find alternative to its fossil fuel-based energy, she said. Since it had ratified the Kyoto Protocol, it had nearly halved carbon dioxide emissions and was committed to continue that trend. In the globalizing world and expanding international trade, it was important to have clear and harmonized rules of fair trade. Globalization should not degrade the quality of the environment and the health of the people. It was of utmost importance to preserve and value society's culture, lifestyle and nature. Among Estonia's biggest assets were its virgin forests, untouched wetlands and beaches, which immensely enriched urbanized Europe, as well as the whole world. Its agricultural land posed an exceptional opportunity for organic farming and healthy food production.

    Estonia shared common responsibility for solving global problems and managing global resources, she said. Radical and decisive changes required openness, different approaches, creativity and participation of stakeholders. Her Government backed partnerships between governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, networks and the scientific community, internally, as well as across borders. If positive changes were possible at the country level, they might also become realistic at the global level. Her country was encouraged by the results achieved in Johannesburg. Progress at the global level would support national efforts, which in turn added value to global sustainable development, she said.

    YASHWANT SINHA, Minister for External Affairs of India, said that in focusing on sustainable development, there was a tendency to underplay the fact that the real problem was unsustainable consumption and the pressure it generated on the earth's finite resources. It was that attachment to unsustainable consumption patterns, and a determination to preserve and raise levels of prosperity at any cost, that bred resistance to any meaningful reform in the financial and economic structures that underpinned global society today. The poor were not the biggest consumers of the world's resources; the rich were.

    While the current process had thrown up pertinent issues on which everyone must act together, it had also sadly underscored a fundamental gap in the understanding of the legitimate needs of developing countries, he noted. It was difficult to pursue enlightened approaches to development in a world where official development assistance (ODA) levels were falling, protectionism was on the rise, terms of trade were stacked in favour of the rich, debt burdens had spiraled, corporate governance needed urgent redefining, and the volatility of international capital transfers had affected productive investment flows to the South.

    India, he said, had taken its own national responsibilities seriously. Sustainable development had become an integral part of its planning process. He informed the Summit that India had deposited its instrument of accession to the Kyoto Protocol on 26 August and was preparing to host the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

    A.J. NICHOLSON, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Jamaica, said that looking back, perhaps the international community had underestimated the complexity and the requirements involved in implementing Agenda 21. Certainly, the national and local capacities for implementing that blueprint of sustainable development had been underestimated, as had entrenched special interests' resistance to change. Further, in 1992, the full impact of globalization could not have been estimated. Despite potential benefits, that process had weakened the nation-state, and had left countries in the developing world more vulnerable to the vagaries of the market, disruptive capital flows and the capricious behaviour of too many companies, national and international.

    He said that, while Jamaica had sought to place its economy in a position to compete globally by ensuring macroeconomic stability and a consistent and enabling policy framework, it appeared to now be facing a trade-off between poverty reduction and sustainable environment practices. Jamaica knew that was a false dichotomy, since it could not sustain economic growth and raise living standards unless it brought into proper balance the elements of sustainable development -- economic, social and environmental. It, therefore, supported the Earth Charter as a framework for sustainable development and affirmed the wisdom that for real development to be achieved, it must be pursued within a framework of true partnership in decision-making and action among all stakeholders.

    Jamaica, however, insisted that such partnership initiatives must be established within defined parameters that adequately protected the interests of all partners and incorporated appropriate mechanisms for monitoring implementation. He stressed that partnerships should not be seen as a substitute for the traditional ODA flows. Those initiatives should not be understood by developed countries as mechanisms to renege on the firm commitments given for the transfer of resources to assist developing countries. He said that in Jamaica, real progress had been made at both national and local levels. Increased awareness had been manifested on the part of the Government, the private sector and civil society concerning the need to promote growth and development from a people-centred, environmentally sensitive perspective.

    RAFAEL F. DE MOYA PONS, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Dominican Republic, said while his country was satisfied with the outcomes, many wishes of the developing countries had not been completely met. Like the Stockholm and Rio summits, this one was a step forward, and not the end of a path. The agreements reached showed there was will to channel economic growth through sustainable development policies.

    As the country with the highest growth rate in Latin America, his country had experienced the high environmental costs of the growth. The Dominican Republic had been the first country to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Since then his country had been urging others to ratify the Protocol as early as possible. Climate change was a reality threatening crops, beaches and the tourist industry. As a small island developing State, his country was convinced the industrialized countries could not continue to pollute the planet. Maintaining agricultural subsidies by developed nations conspired against the sustainable development of developing societies. He congratulated the European Union countries, who had committed to reducing and eliminating those subsidies, and urged other developed countries to work together in building an egalitarian free-trade system.

    He said for his country, commitment to sustainable development was a practical commitment, founded on an ethical concept of sustainable development. In conclusion, he suggested setting up ministries for sustainable development, with broader powers than those of the ministries of the environment, to act as watchdogs over compliance with the commitments of Monterrey, Doha and Johannesburg.

    YOUSEF ABU-SAFIEH, Minister for the Environment of the Palestinian Authority, said since its establishment in 1994, the Authority had worked hard to meet the Palestinian people's social and economic demands, taking into consideration protecting the environment and achieving sustainable development. It had established an institutional framework based upon democracy, equality and social justice, with separation between the legislative, executive and judicial authorities. Legislation had been developed to organize and manage sectors such as water, environment, education, health, industry, trade and tourism. It had set up strategic development plans based on land-use frameworks in both the Gaza Strip and West Bank, among other actions.

    He said due to Israeli violations of all international environmental humanitarian conventions, all those efforts, unfortunately, had been wasted, thereby paralysing every aspect of Palestinian life. Israeli forces had launched a war of assassination full of hatred and racial discrimination. Today, 15 children had been killed, mostly children, in their own homes. While serious international efforts were exerted to combat desertification, reduce climate change, achieve food security and decrease the poverty rate in rural areas, Israel had demolished and destroyed more than 10,000 hectares of agricultural land and greenhouses and had uprooted more than a million trees. Consequently, 64 per cent of the Palestinian population was living under the poverty line, compared to 22 per cent in 1998.

    Despite all those and other obstacles the Authority was facing under the continuous Israeli aggression, it was determined to achieve sustainable development and called on the international community for assistance to implement social and environmental programmes. That would include ending the occupation, establishing an independent Palestinian State, the right of return or compensation for refugees, the right of the Palestinian people to financial compensation for rehabilitation and the return of expropriated land. It would be wonderful for a political statement to be made and a plan be set forth for sustainable development. It would be more wonderful if States implemented the commitments already made, because oppressed and deprived people required action, not statements. The Authority would support the national plans and programmes for poverty alleviation; support health, educational and social welfare institutions; and support developing public health through providing clean water, safe food and sanitary sewage systems.

    DOUGLAS SLATER, Minister for Health and Environment of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that over the course of the Summit he had heard several speeches about the global challenges of sustainable development and the need for international cooperation. That challenge was most clearly demonstrated in the economies of small island countries, which contributed little to environmental degradation. In Rio, and again in Barbados, the international community had recognized the threats of certain policies on small island States, had referred to their special circumstances in Agenda 21, and adopted the Barbados Programme of Action. "What had we done and seen since?" he said.

    While small island States had made significant efforts at the national and regional levels, he said, the international community had done very little in a decade of the most rapid economic growth in the developed countries. In addition, the threats of climate change and sea level rise and international volatility had all increased. Furthermore, the prices of sugar and bananas had fallen since 1992.

    Another major issue, he said, was the loss of trained professional resources to developed countries. By 2000, thousands of trained professionals were lost through recruitment by developed countries. Trade, diversification and human resources development had been critical to the sustainable development of small island States. His country's growth and fiscal performance of the 1990s had been undermined.

    COLIN POWELL, Secretary of State of the United States, said that Johannesburg, the location of the Summit, inspired even as it reminded that the best formula for development was freedom. The American soul had always harboured a great desire to help others and had always striven to seek the best for the men, women and children all over the globe. That spirit particularly extended to the world's poor. Indeed, United States President George Bush had affirmed that the critical necessity of including all the world's poor in an "expanding circle of development" was a great moral challenge. The United States reaffirmed the principle that sound economic management, investment in people and responsible stewardship of the environment were crucial for development.

    Disregard for the environment threatened the world's resources and all that depended on them for food and shelter, he continued. The challenge was to include those that had been left out, by achieving by 2015 the Millennium Development imperatives. At the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, President Bush had underscored the link between good governance and human well-being when he proposed the establishment of a "Millennium Challenge Account", which would provide assistance only to developing nations that were governed wisely and fairly and whose leadership was actively committed to promoting good health, education and policies that spurred growth and development. With that in mind, the United States was prepared to allocate some $5 billion in additional resources a year -- a 50 per cent increase over what was currently spent in that regard.

    Johannesburg was about the international community agreeing on one common agenda based on the best thinking and best practices of all. But, only action could provide the clean water to slake the thirst of children, prevent the transmission of a deadly virus from a mother to a child, and preserve the biodiversity of a fragile African rain forest. The United States was doing its part to protect the environment, including in the area of climate change. It was not just committed to rhetoric, but had initiated a billon dollar programme to deploy technological resources to mitigate global emissions. Another initiative would build 90,000 homes for 500,000 people in South Africa. The United States had also launched initiatives during the Summit that aimed to expand access to clean water and energy, as well as provide jobs for millions of people in need. Those initiatives also reaffirmed President Bush's commitment to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. In the name of partnership, good governance and international cooperation, he affirmed that he and President Bush would work together to implement plans to end hunger and despair and offer hope to all God's children.

    JOAO BERTNARDO DE MIRANDA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, emphasized the importance of international cooperation and the establishment of partnerships between the industrialized and developing countries. African governments, through NEPAD, had already taken an important step within the framework of international cooperation. Now the industrialized countries and international financial institutions, through concrete actions, must demonstrate their engagement with the progress of the continent.

    Sustainable development, he said, could not be confined to the responsibility of governments. It must involve the participation of the population and local communities, particularly regarding the definition of goals and priorities of development policies. Angola was taking important steps in that connection, through the implementation of a programme of macroeconomic reforms, whose objective was the stabilization of the economy, poverty alleviation and job creation.

    In the area of environmental protection, Angola had taken significant steps in the past decade in the area of legislation for the rational utilization of natural resources. He reiterated Angola's support to the plan of action and political declaration to be approved today, in the hope that they would be instruments for the resolution of many of the problems affecting developing countries.

    MOHAMED ENNABLI, Minister of Environment and Land Management of Tunisia, said there was to be partnership between North and South to achieve the purposes of sustainable development in the framework of the international alliance for development, advocated by the Monterrey Consensus. That alliance meant not only implementation of the 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) by developed countries for developing countries, but also appropriate measures by developed countries to counter the negative effects on the international environment, such as desertification. The results achieved by developing countries were still below expectations. Excellent economic performance was often achieved through excessive exploitation of natural resources and degradation of the environment.

    The last years had proved the efficiency of complementarity between ODA and the promotion of commercial relations in compliance with the principles of the WTO. He stressed the necessity to coordinate between the commercial, financial and monetary policies in the world, provided that the United Nations remained the adequate framework for the realization of those objectives. Those objectives could not be achieved without strengthening international measures to combat poverty. Those conditions required more cooperation and solidarity to find the appropriate mechanisms to tackle them.

    In 1989, Tunisia had proposed a programme to recycle the debts of poor countries for environmental programmes as one of the most efficient ways to strengthen the channels of international cooperation. That year, it had also called for the creation of a world solidarity fund, aimed at alleviating the effects of poverty in the most destitute regions. While that initiative had been approved by the United Nations, he hoped an appropriate mechanism would be found to materialize it. He stressed the necessity for the industrialized countries to renew their commitments related to the international agreements and to implement the decisions emanating from them. He also called for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, so that the developing countries would benefit from the mechanisms of a safe ecological development.

    GHEORGE DUCA, Minister of Ecology, Construction and Territorial Development of Moldova, announced that his Government was prepared to ratify the Kyoto Protocol before the end of the year. That action by Moldova's Parliament was an example of the country's strong commitment to promoting sustainable development and respect for democracy. He went on to say that agriculture made up about 60 per cent of Moldova's income, and the country needed unhindered access to respective markets. As a new member on the WTO, Moldova would actively participate in efforts to ensure the early conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda and it supported the commitment of the European Union in building up the capacity of developing countries to benefit from free trade negotiations and market access.

    He said that agricultural production in Moldova had stagnated recently due to unfavorable weather conditions, natural calamities and droughts, as well as the pressures on the sector due to the country's transition towards market-economy principles of land use. Intensified land and water use, together with large-scale livestock activity, had placed Moldova's fresh-water resources in danger. In response, the Government had adopted a national programme on water supply and treatment, and was committed to the introduction of more advanced technologies to improve the use of fresh water in agriculture, as well as the social sector.

    He said the necessary programmes were under way to protect biodiversity and restore the environmental balance of the country. Situated in the Danube-Black Sea region, Moldova also actively participated in regional initiatives. Together with its neighbors, Moldova was working for more efficient and safe exploration of the Prut and Nistru Rivers -- taking into account previous industrial disasters that had endangered their basins. Unfortunately, the separatist regime in the Transinistria region created serious obstacles to the implementation of many of the environmental rehabilitation programmes that had been envisioned for the Nistru River Basin. Moldova was, however, grateful to those countries that had provided it with safe equipment for the liquidation of non-transportable stockpiles of foreign weapons placed in its territory during the cold war.

    CLARKSON O. TANYI-MBIANYOR, Minister of Environment and Forestry of Cameroon, said that today the production of goods and services had reached levels never before attained without a corresponding improvement in the lot of mankind. Hunger and malnutrition still plagued the world, with extreme poverty taking root in the countries of the South and the number of poor people increasing considerably. Those grim realities underscored the importance of the commitments made at the Millennium Summit to, among other things, eradicate poverty and hunger, promote basic education and health, combat major diseases and protect the environment.

    It also highlighted, he continued, the significance of the Monterrey Consensus in which the international community reaffirmed its determination to mobilize the financial resources necessary to more efficiently combat poverty and render the economies of the countries of the South more competitive, with the aim of contributing towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The Millennium Summit and the Monterrey Conference laid the groundwork and reiterated the objectives agreed to in Rio. The international community was gathered in Johannesburg to translate those commitments into concrete actions. The watchword for the Summit should be action.

    He reaffirmed the determination of his country to cooperate with all partners, especially with the countries of the Central African subregion through a renewed partnership based on the Johannesburg Plan of Action and NEPAD, particularly regarding sustainable management of the ecological resources of the Congo Basin, as well as in other important areas such as water, health, energy, agriculture, food security, education, the conservation and management of biodiversity and the fight against land degradation.

    D. JAUME MATAS, Minister for Environment of Spain, said there was an inescapable need to bring the policies of sustainable development closer to the citizens. Spain supported the creation of a permanent forum for sustainable development and would be willing to host it. The outcomes of the Summit should be based on the responsibility of each State for its own development. Multilateral action had to be underscored as the driving force. Society had expressed the negative aspects of globalization, rather than its positive opportunities. It was the responsibility of all to ensure that globalization worked for all.

    He said it was a priority to boost the involvement of civil society in the processes of sustainable development. Policy makers must show a firm commitment to sustainable development, so that it permeated policy decisions. Good governance required ensuring peace and stability, defending human rights, and respecting gender equality and the rule of law. Changing consumption patterns was among the keys to halting environmental degradation. Those factors, together with market access for developing countries, would fight poverty, the greatest scourge of society. In order to combat the risks of climate change, all States must make efforts to bring into force the Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible. Production and consumption patterns must be changed, in order to create a strong belief in renewable energy.

    It was necessary to mitigate the consequences of climate change, such as the rising sea level, desertification and changing weather patterns. Anything done in that regard was an investment in the future, he said. Water was clearly of great importance. Spain had been obliged by nature to learn from experience. It was, therefore, committed to extending the European Water Initiative, initially intended for Eastern Europe and Africa, to Latin America.

    RONNIE JUMEAU, Minister of Environment of the Seychelles, speaking on behalf of the President, said sustainable development in the Seychelles was based on three core principles -- putting people at the centre of development efforts, engaging regional and international forums to highlight the plight of small island States, and a profound commitment to sustainable practices that did not endanger future generations.

    He said that despite the Seychelles' miniscule economy, over-dependence on tourism and fisheries, and reliance on imports for both consumer products and capital inputs, it had made commendable strides in its socio-economic endeavours. It was ranked forty-seventh overall and first for Africa in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index for 2002. It had recently launched its second environmental management plan for the years 2000 to 2010. But those achievements were being threatened, as the Seychelles had become a victim of its own success. Donor assistance had diminished considerably and the Seychelles was now facing difficulties in obtaining concessionary funds.

    Seychelles, like many other countries, could have chosen to score economic achievements at the cost of social unity and the environment. It might have, for instance, tolerated over-fishing, encouraged mass tourism or transformed its many parks and preserves -- which today constitutes some 46 per cent of Seychelles limited land area -- into industrial sites. But that had not been the case, as Seychelles recognized the importance of balancing the three pillars of sustainable development. Having no choice but to make the best of what little it had, the country had moved to overcome structural problems to bring internal and external harmony to its sustainable development efforts.

    AICHATOU MINDAOUDOU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Niger, said that since Rio, Africa had taken various measures to implement Agenda 21. Now, the time had come to take stock. She hoped that the Summit, far from being a renegotiation of what was agreed 10 years ago, would make it possible to adopt a vigorous programme of action with precise targets and deadlines. She also hoped that holding the Summit in Africa would give Africa the opportunity to build strategic partnerships. That could only be done if an integrated approach was taken to reduce poverty, which was seriously jeopardizing human development. Sixty-three per cent of the population in Niger lived under the poverty line.

    To reverse that trend, she continued, the Government, with the participation of all actors, had devised a poverty-reduction strategy to provide tangible solutions to all the difficulties facing the population. That strategy was the sole frame of reference, which would govern the country's relations with its development partners. Niger was an example of the link between environmental degradation and poverty. Desertification, which went hand in hand with food security, affected the majority of the land in Niger. The growing scarcity of natural resources, aggravated by cyclical drought, threatened to make the situation worse.

    To tackle those problems, she said, a group of eminent persons had met in February to reflect on the links between poverty and environment. The appeal made then called for special attention to be paid to desertification and to make the Convention to Combat Desertification a working tool. It was her wish that a mechanism for financing in connection with the Convention would be set up.

    OLGA ADELLACH, Minister of Agriculture and Environment of Andorra, said bearing in mind the great delay in implementing the Rio texts, one might "relativize" the importance of the various contributions to this summit. What was decisive was the will to respect commitments and protect the planet. Those words were easy to say, but difficult to implement. Andorra, on a smaller scale, suffered the same contradictions that affected the planet. In its mountainous territory, it could have two visions of the future world: one based on quantitative growth with natural capital used with exclusive economic criteria, the other affirming the need to change the values and principles that must guide daily actions. The so-called "change of paradigm" should give priority to the latter vision.

    Tourism could offer her country a source of revenue, but could also cause unplanned growth, including problems with waste and water, and loss of ground and natural spaces. As a developed country, she said, Andorra used a large part of its natural resources. The change in the consumption and production model was more urgent than ever. Andorra was working on a law for the preservation of nature and planned to join the convention on the European landscape. The Department of Agriculture was working to resurrect traditional systems of agriculture and cattle farming.

    She said Western countries were not well placed to give lessons on rightful globalization, while maintaining all manner of barriers against outside products or while "progress" was based on a model of energy use that continued to aggravate the future of the human population. Globalization both united and divided the world. Some of the most densely populated States had opted for opening up their markets, while others maintained protectionist policies. Many nations had chosen to strengthen democracy, while others continue to see it as a merely Western concept not relevant for them. Democracy was not an easy path, but if globalization was to carry positive forces, democracy was one of them and must be a pillar of the process.

    JULIAN R. HUNT, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Saint Lucia, referred to the vulnerability of small island States, a vulnerability that was multifaceted and entailed economic, environmental and social dimensions. He highlighted three examples of that vulnerability. First, there was climate change and the sea-level rise that would ultimately impact on the very survival of island States. Then there was globalization and trade liberalization, including market access and debt relief, which already had significant implications for the competitiveness of small and medium scale enterprises within the private sector and the viability of the national agricultural base of those countries, particularly their banana industry.

    Third, he said, it was necessary to consider the fragility of limited, yet diverse, natural resources, and biodiversity, as those countries strove to ensure the continued sustainable use and management of those resources, which formed the basis for the continued development of such industries as tourism in his country. The priority now must be the development of effective implementation strategies for the agreements to which he had referred. More than ever before, there remained a critical need for capacity-building and cooperation in areas of research, and science and technological applications.

    Saint Lucia, he said, had been active in forging partnerships to meet the goal of becoming a demonstration country for sustainable energy development. Indeed, it was fully committed to a 35 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions and a 20 per cent contribution to its energy supplies from renewable energy technologies by 2010.

    DAVID KEMP, Minister for the Environment and Heritage of Australia, said that his delegation had listened closely to the words of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China during the Summit and had been impressed by their logic and passion. Australia had strongly supported their emphasis on the importance of trade and market access as a path to economic sustainability. It had strongly endorsed their call to be allowed to set their own goals for balancing environment, health and economic objectives in energy production. However, it had also recognized an important role for the international community, for practical multilateral goals and for coordinated action among States.

    Nowhere was that more important than in relation to the oceans, he said. The high seas were a global commons and everyone must act together if they were to be protected. He was delighted at the priority given by the Summit to ensuring the sustainable development of the oceans, as well as the special needs of small island States. The partnerships announced over the past two weeks would add great momentum to achieving the goals that had been set during the Summit. Australia had announced 15 partnership initiatives in areas ranging from high seas biodiversity to HIV/AIDS and climate change.

    He emphasized that good work had been done at Johannesburg. That momentum must be maintained in the Doha negotiations on trade liberalization and agricultural subsidies and through implementing the Monterrey Consensus. In the long run, that was more important to the dignity, development, independence and environmental sustainability of developing countries than ODA. He added that the search for a genuinely effective global framework to tackle climate change must continue, and each country must take action to reduce its greenhouse signature. For its part, Australia would be working hard to meet the target it committed to at Kyoto.

    VLADIMIRS MAKAROVS, Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of Latvia, said that since its independence, his country had focused on modern and effective environmental policies and had set up institutions for implementing those policies. Latvia had implemented the recommendations of the Earth Summit and had ratified the Rio conventions. It recognized the importance of common efforts, global action and collective responsibility for sustainable development, and for fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals. Latvia had also ratified the Kyoto Protocol and invited all States which had not do so, to consider doing the same.

    Together with other Baltic Sea countries, Latvia was actively involved in the development of the Baltic Sea Regional Agenda 21, he said. The Baltic 21 regional initiatives had important features, including political commitment at the highest level. Initiated six years ago by the leaders of the region and with a multi-stakeholder membership, Baltic 21 had a unique structure comprising eight sectors of the economy. The responsibility for each sector was shared by two countries irrespective of their size and wealth. Latvia was committed to being actively involved in implementation of Baltic 21 and currently held the chairmanship. Such successful cooperation had served as a model for building cooperation with the Lake Victoria basin in East Africa.

    AGBA OTIKPO MEZODE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic, said that Rio had provided clear guidelines to make the twenty-first century one of sustainable development and to ensure the well-being of future generations. His country had undertaken to implement all the commitments agreed to at the Earth Summit. Despite the difficulties facing his economy, major efforts had been made to ensure the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity. His country had developed, among other things, a national environmental action plan, as well as a plan on the development of tourism. Moreover, since Rio, local focal points had been identified and several conventions related to the environment had been ratified.

    In addition, he said, his country had participated in the strengthening of subregional structures, including the one on the Congo River Basin and the programme for managing environmental information. He reiterated his country's resolve to stop deforestation. In that connection, the Central African Republic had reintroduced rapid-growth species to reforest areas of the country, while paying proper attention to local species. Combating poverty was a major priority for his country, and it was preparing a comprehensive strategy to address that issue. Combating poverty must be based on the increased mobilization of major groups at the national level, including non-governmental organizations. In addition, debt reduction would be a real leverage for economic and social development.

    CLARICE MODESTE-CURWEN, Minister for Health and Environment of Grenada, said energy had been one of the main themes discussed at the Summit and the need to pursue sustainable and renewable energy sources had been highlighted as a priority goal for every member of the international community. She was proud to announce that Grenada and other countries in her region had already begun to move in that direction. Grenada had recently completed the elaboration of a draft renewable energy plan. The hope was to shortly proclaim Grenada a "renewable energy island." Her Government would be looking to its partners in the developed world to help make that dream a reality.

    She went onto say that despite having one of the lowest carbon dioxide emission rates of any nation, Grenada was very concerned about climate change. The island was very vulnerable to the effects of that phenomenon, particularly sea-level rise, as most of it business centres and human settlements were located in costal areas. She urged all States to take appropriate action to lower the gas emissions for the benefit of everyone on the planet.

    She said that the various initiatives Grenada had taken within the small island States framework were not only moral obligation, but also had highlighted the direct relationship between multilateral initiatives and the social and economic well-being of Grenada and its people. She went on to say that one could not talk of sustainable development without realizing that serious steps needed to be taken to eradicate poverty globally. Focus must be on the health and social well-being of the world's people. Moreover, clean water and access to health care and safe sanitation were rights, not privileges. Grenada had undertaken extensive initiatives to ensure the health of its people and had particularly focused on the provision of and access to anti-retroviral drugs to combat HIV/AIDS. She called on other countries to make similar commitments.

    BABOUCARR BLAISE JAGNE, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Gambia, delivering the statement of President Jammeh, said that the convening of the Summit at the dawn of the new century was very significant, coming as it did at a time when efforts were being made to ensure the well-being of mankind and the planet. The Summit was an opportunity not only to take stock of achievements and obstacles, but also to reinvigourate global commitment to sustainable development.

    His Government had been able to develop the Gambia Environment Action Plan as a strategy for the conservation of natural resources and the environment. In 10 years of implementation, it had acquired and developed national capacities in critical areas and it intended to further consolidate its gains. At the same time, certain gaps and constraints continued to negatively impact on the Government's efforts to implement its programmes.

    Notwithstanding the gains made in some areas, in general, for those in the developing countries the period since Rio had been disappointing with regard to failed promises. Most African countries continued to be marginalized and negatively impacted by globalization. Also, civil society continued to be distanced from global decision-making. More concrete efforts for sustainable development were needed. He reiterated his country's commitment to the full implementation of Agenda 21.

    JOSE LUIS GUTERRES, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of East Timor, in the newly independent nation's first address before a United Nations assembly, said that while the Summit's outcome document was not perfect, it was something the international community could work with to make conditions better. He went on to say that some 40 per cent of Timorese lived below the poverty line and the intervention of the international community was essential to help the people overcome the significant challenges they still faced. Here, he thanked the Secretary-General and the United Nations family, for the invaluable guidance and assistance it had provided along East Timor's long march towards democracy and freedom.

    He said that poverty eradication was a priority for the new Government. East Timor would try hard to halve poverty levels by 2005 and to ensure that girls and boys would be able to complete primary education within time frames set by the Millennium Declaration. Special emphasis would also be placed on dealing with malaria and other communicable diseases. He said the Government had integrated the principles of sustainable development in the education system, and those same principles would next by applied to the business sector. East Timor would also soon create its first national park.

    He said that on 27 September, East Timor hoped to become a new United Nations Member State. At that time, it would announce its ratification of the core of international human rights treaties, already approved by the Timorese Parliament. It was hoped that an announcement on the Kyoto Protocol would soon follow. He hoped that the peace and reconciliation achieved in East Timor could, with the help of the international community and the United Nations, be made a reality in Palestine. It was also his hope that the world's children could play without fear of flying bullets and that human rights could be protected and not ignored. A safer planet was the best gift to offer to future generations, he said.

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